Don’t start pulling out your pitchforks – we’re not the ones predicting doom and gloom for the 3DS and Nintendo. But a pair of articles have surfaced, one from GadgetReview, another from Fool.com, that think the 3DS is going to flop so hard that Magikarp will get jealous.
3D Isn’t Profitable
GadgetReview: You don’t want it, I don’t want it, and according to most data out there on the subject, nobody really cares about 3D. Not 3D movies, not 3DTV, not 3D sports, and not 3D gaming. It’s a novelty at best, and an eye-straining, vision-ruining epidemic at worst. Furthermore, 3D content is currently so limited in film and 3DS gaming that anyone could store all the trailers and videos they want on the included 2GB SD card.
Fool.com: Television manufacturers put plenty of weight behind 3-D televisions this year, only to find that consumers really don’t care.
The only real winners of 3-D have been leading 3-D outfitter RealD (NYSE: RLD) and super-sized cinematic experience creator IMAX (Nasdaq: IMAX), along with the movie studios and exhibitors that have turned to RealD and IMAX to boost average ticket prices. Outside of the multiplex, 3-D isn’t much of a novelty.
This is a fair point – I’m certainly not looking to buy a 3DS for the 3D feature, but it is definitely a nice plus. However, the 3DS isn’t just a “3D machine,” it’s also a Nintendo handheld, and by that merit if there’s anything that will keep it from performing like every other Nintendo handheld (i.e., breaking sales records everywhere), it’d be the higher price point. That doesn’t seem to have stopped it from selling out overseas before we could blink, however, although it may hurt its long-term sales compared to the original DS, Lite, and DSi.
The 3DS is Coming too Late
GadgetReview: Nintendo may not believe in the phone industry, but game developers do, and consumers do. No matter what Nintendo may say or do, they are competing against products that make calls, send text and picture messages, stream and store video and music, run hundreds of thousands of applications, and play games. These are devices updated yearly. In comes Nintendo like a hipster trying to be retro: every part of the 3DS is old except for the 3D tech and the processing power, which remains a mystery. Three VGA cameras? A resistive touchscreen? 400×240 and 320×240 resolution displays? If I were to describe such a device to anyone today and not say it was from Nintendo, they’d ask “who would make such crap?”
Fool.com: Gadgetry is evolving with every holiday season. Netbooks were all the rage in 2009, but they were bumped out by tablets in 2010. Gaming is also evolving quickly, and this means that Nintendo blew it back in September, when it added insult to injury by delaying the 3DS in the United States after hosing down its near-term financials.
I still don’t think the 3DS would’ve been a hit had it come to retailers before the 2010 holiday season, but how many gamers have $250 burning holes in their pockets in March?
The “outdated tech” complaint was levied against the NES, DS, and Wii back when they released, too, but they’re still three of the best-selling game computer systems of all time. Why? Because they offered software experiences that no one else had – Mario, Zelda, Wii Sports, Wii Fit. Not to mention that skimping on the hardware specs doesn’t hurt the potential for great gameplay, and it also plays nice by keeping hardware prices relatively low. While some customers may opt for higher power and multi-functionality, I think generally Nintendo’s customers aren’t willing to sacrifice the software brands in favor of fancy tech.
But then Nintendo’s most successful hardware does have its nifty unique features: from the NES’s groundbreaking controller to the DS’s dual-screens with touch control to the Wii’s motion device, and now the 3DS’s 3D display. People are quick to downplay these features as gimmicky, but the truth is Nintendo’s strength never came directly from the hardware. It’s always come from the software. Which leads me to the next complaint…
The Software Won’t Succeed
GadgetReview: As much as we complain about hardware, it’s software that will make or break any electronic device. And here comes Nintendo with a slightly updated two-year-old operating system with a grand total of 11 apps. Oh, and some of them won’t be available when the 3DS comes out.
Apps on phones and media players are becoming ridiculously complex. I can learn a language, store all of Wikipedia, check the weather and do thousands of other things through apps on my iPod Touch. And what is Nintendo offering? Mii Maker and Face Raiders. Is this some kind of joke? I know kids in elementary school with more iPhone apps than me, who send more text messages and open more apps a day than my entire family does in a week, and Nintendo is putting in a notepad and activity log? I guess Nintendo’s new model is useless hardware and junk software.
Fool.com: “Nintendo 3DS is a category of one,” Nintendo stateside chief Reggie Fils-Aime said in a statement last week. “The experience simply doesn’t exist anywhere else.”
Fils-Aime has had to eat his words before. He put down Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) last year, feeling that the success of Apple’s App Store wasn’t making a dent in Nintendo’s handheld business.
“It doesn’t look like their platform is a viable profit platform for game development because so many of the games are free versus paid downloads,” he told video game website Kotaku last April.
If that’s the logic going into putting out a $250 machine that requires $40 games, he’s going to miss the mark again.
Besides the fact that “apps” and “console software” are two completely different animals – notice how GadgetReview completely ignores the 3DS’s game software lineup and focuses only on the “apps” – since when has Nintendo software suffered from general failure? Even in the GameCube era there were still plenty of million sellers for Nintendo to boast about, and in a world with iPhone apps Wii and DS are still selling despite being several years old and apparently outdated if we take the previous argument seriously.
These writers talk as though Nintendo’s business is growing stagnant when in fact they’ve produced some of their best-selling products ever in the last few years. And unless the games – you know, the reasons why people buy gaming consoles in the first place? – just plain aren’t good, I can’t see why their success would stop with 3DS. Just look at the image at the top of the page. Does that look like a failing console to you?